Postsecondary Success Notes| Keeping students on the path to a degree


As colleges and universities continue to adapt to a rapidly changing environment, I’ve been thinking a lot about the students who are most at risk of being pushed off their path to a certificate or degree.

One group I am concerned about is transfer students. More than one-third of today’s students attend more than one institution on their way to graduation. And we know that transfer students – many of whom are low-income and first-generation students and students of color – often face more challenges completing their education, typically because of lost credits and thus lost time and money.

That is why one of our priorities for COVID-19 response is student mobility – making the process of moving across institutions more student-centered by changing policies and practices. This is not a new issue – states and their colleges and universities have been working on transfer policy for decades. And it’s not just a community college issue – students move across four-year universities as well. Now it’s a more urgent issue as current and incoming students rethink their plans and students with some college but no degree consider returning to finish their programs.

Today’s students are on the move because they are more than students – they are workers, parents, caregivers, servicemembers, and more. Educational opportunity needs to move with them, now and well into the future.

Patrick Methvin

Student Mobility: Preserving and Strengthening Educational Pathways

Students who attend more than one institution often face obstacles to continuing and completing their programs. Inconsistent information, complex and confusing policies, delayed credit review, and seemingly arbitrary credit rejection leave many spending time and money they don’t have. For some, it can quickly bring an end to their college journey.

COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate these challenges as students’ plans change. As a result, the foundation is focusing on a combination of immediate and longer-term strategies to improve credit mobility and transparency at the campus, system, and state levels.

Resources and Policy Recommendations:
The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program is leading a multi-partner effort to support improved college student outcomes. The program aims to assess the current state of credit mobility policies and practices, develop and disseminate recommendations for improving those policies and practices, and engage with campuses and systems with high transfer activity to implement and evaluate new approaches.

Views on Transfer

Concerns about “Corona swirl” are growing, particularly for students opting to attend community colleges in the fall. A group of experts and practitioners offer recommendations for ending “transfer swirl” and promoting more equitable student outcomes in a new commentary for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.